Breakfast dining goes international in London
One of the best food trends to make its way across the Atlantic to London is the resurgence of breakfast. Restaurants open earlier and menus are a panoply of eggs, granola and porridges. Breakfast in the city has come into its own, with a slew of international restaurants now offering their own take on this quintessential English meal.
This Indian diner draws its inspiration from the "Irani" cafes of Mumbai that sprung up in the early 20th century and attracted people from all walks of life. Its bacon naan roll has reached iconic status, thanks to its baked-to-order naan, cream cheese and herb and chilli tomato jam filling and crisp and streaky smoked bacon.
The roll's sweetish aftertaste is down to bacon cured for five days and cold-smoked over oak chips. Add free-range eggs, or opt for the eggs-only version if you don't eat meat.
New on the breakfast menu since last month is the super simple kejriwal, two runny-yolked fried eggs on chilli cheese toast, or the keema per eedu, a Parsi power breakfast of spicy chicken keema with chicken liver, fried eggs and chips.
For a sweet hit, try the house granola made with cashews, almonds, pistachios and cinnamon with Keralan vanilla-infused yogurt.
With its delicious menu and cool East London location, Andina is buzzing at all hours - even at 8am. My favourites are the Benedicto, a quinoa pancake topped with a poached egg, asparagus and haddock and an amarillo chilli sauce, and the quinoa porridge made with quinoa, milk, amaranth, purple corn syrup and seasonal fruit compote. Their fair-trade coffees are cheap and there's a strong list of smoothies and juices. Try the Supay, a kicky blend of orange, pomegranate, goldenberry and limo chilli.
Israeli Yotam Ottolenghi's London restaurants are an oasis of bright, fresh Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours. Here he has gone down a different route with marble and brass interiors.
More importantly, he's embraced Asian flavours, thanks to Malaysian-Australian head chef Ramael Scully. The small but perfectly formed breakfast menu includes these influences in its two star dishes: black rice and shakshuka.
The former uses a glutinous black rice from Malaysia cooked in coconut milk and served with palm sugar syrup, banana and mango; the latter is a staple Middle Eastern dish originally from Tunisia - braised eggs in a fiery tomato and pepper sauce with dollops of smoked labneh, a dairy product.
Both are satisfying and a little off-the-beaten breakfast track. For traditionalists there's sausage or bacon sandwiches (served with a zingy coriander aioli), French toast or poached eggs with salmon.
koyabar.co.uk (no reservations)
Koya Bar opened next door to sister restaurant Koya, so that the latter's head chef, Junya Yamasaki, could give full rein to his more experimental streak and Koya Bar could focus on the traditional udon noodle dishes that made Koya famous.
For breakfast it serves simple Japanese and innovative Japanese-English fusion that are either rice or udon noodle based and highly original. These include the light and lean yakizakana, grilled fish of the day with rice, miso and pickle, the English-themed but Japanese-flavoured kedgeree (rice porridge served with smoked haddock, poached egg and curry) and English breakfast udon, a broth that comes with bacon, shiitake and a fried egg.
This is the tidiest and heart-healthiest version of an English fry-up I've ever sampled.
Newman Street Tavern
Weekend breakfasts were such a hit here that the venue launched weekday breakfasts a few months ago. With its best of British produce ethos and dedication to using every part of the animal, this airy two-floor restaurant offers the usual meat-and-egg suspects and a few more intriguing options.
Its signature dish is not for the faint-hearted - the full English is a perfectly cooked plate of Tamworth bacon and sausage, roast suckling pig, mushroom and black pudding (you can add an egg, too).
Other options are equally serious, such as the fried eggs, chorizo and fried potatoes, or flat mushrooms, fried eggs and chips. I tried the oatmeal-crumbed fried herring and a glorious helping of scrambled eggs followed by a bowl of fragrant poached fresh apricots sprinkled with toasted almonds.